COMMENTARY: 12.09.19- As a current owner of the iPhone SE and a huge fan of the classic 4-inch form factor (and smaller non phablet size smartphones), the news of the impending release of its successor planned for the Spring of 2020 personally gave me pure delight but despite that sheer excitement, I may continue to wait and pass on the new device if it doesn’t have one key feature: 5G.
2019 is still less than a month away from ending but 2020 — not measure by the calendar date it begins on (January 1) but, rather, the time of year when the annual media event at Apple Park in September or October is held where the company’s new smartphone lineup is unveiled — is already on everyone’s minds, wondering and trying to predict what is to come from Cupertino, California. The heat surrounding the recently released iPhone 11 models has barely cooled down and rumors and some legit forecasts by analysts for next year’s Apple device offerings are currently being discussed in advance of its forthcoming release . However, the one common and underlying theme that everyone seems to agree on is that Apple finally will be jumping into, albeit late into the game, the 5G bandwagon with compatible handsets featuring the next gen Mobil broadband spectrum.
5G, which is the new fifth generation cellular standard for high speed data transmission, is not currently supported by any iPhone models Apple has in its portfolio (although it is predicted to capture the top spot in the market when compatible devices are forecasted to be released next year). In the tech giant’s favor, however, the next gen mobile broadband spectrum has, yet, to be rolled out completely nationwide among the four major wireless carriers in the U.S., with the exception of two, Verizon being the first in November — though AT&T would argue that fact seeing as its 5GE (the last letter standing for evolution, a clever marketing ruse to brand its slightly faster than standard 4G LTE network) debuted in early 2019 — and just recently, T-Mobile (which soon will merge with Sprint), following suit just this month.
As far as the forthcoming iPhone SE 2 is concerned, the long awaited sequel to its predecessor that came out in 2016, which has been forecasted to be going into production next month and released sometime in March 2020, will it too support 5G or will that feature be saved for Apple’s flagship models in the Fall?
Previously, Apple was predicted to be following its pattern in recent years of releasing three iPhone models in either September or October — as it has done since 2018 with the XR, XS, and XS Max — but that was until the SE 2 came into the picture being a fourth player in the game. A report published last month seems to suggest, though not confirm outright, that Apple will release a device in the first half and then roll out the others in the second portion of the year.
Then, to throw a, notch, into the picture, news broke last Monday that next year’s lineup would be comprised of four flagship models to be released in the Fall of 2020, and, of note, all of which are expected to have 5G connectivity. That was then followed up last Wednesday (just two days later) by a forecast made by a renowned analyst within the Apple news rumor circuit (already referred to in a link referenced at the beginning of this commentary) who has an almost perfect track record of predicting — he was spot on with almost all of his predictions for 2019 (including what the makeup of the three iPhones that did get released with the 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max would look like and feature) — the products in the tech giant’s pipeline due to his insider sources within the company’s supply chain.
One particular tech reporter’s (not me, mind you) own personal analysis based on that analysts’ forecast points to the 2020 Apple smartphone lineup looking like this: an iPhone SE 2 on the low end of the spectrum, and, on the high end, a 12, 12 Plus, 12 Pro, and a 12 Pro Max.
That’s a big bushel of apples, if I may say so myself, to be released by Apple for one of its product lines (although it has done so in the past with the little MP3 player that could, having a shuffle, nano, classic, and touch model all concurrently at one point in time for the iPod lineup).
Does all of this rumored information mean, heaven forbid, as the one report suggests, that there will be no smaller handset in advance and four larger devices, all at once, later on? Or, as suggested by that analyst and the tech reporter, will it fall in line with an iPhone SE 2 release in the Spring followed by four flagship models in the Fall? And, more importantly, will the former device have 5G connectivity or will that be reserved for the latter devices coming in the second half of next year?
Those questions are, currently, circling and swirling around in my mind as I, and many others like me, anxiously await whether an iPhone SE 2 is indeed in the works and will go into production in January with a release of the said product two months later in March. If I decide to upgrade on the spot or hold on to my 2016 device — which I happily bought just a few days after it came out in stores and relinquished my grip on my aging four year old 5 model from 2012 (since I was not a huge fan of the larger handsets, a.k.a. phablets, that Apple had begun to make) starting with the 6 and 6 Plus, although, the smartphone I have is at the moment only about a year old because I had the original’s battery replaced per the $29 replacement program last year and the Apple Store damaged it and, thus, replaced it with a new one (to my delight!) — is dependent on all of those factors.
Never mind whether the iPhone model does come out or not! While 5G connectivity is crucial, an even more important aspect to consider will be its… size. (To quote the movie tagline of the 1998 Summer blockbuster, Godzilla, “Size Does Matter”).
The iPhone SE from 2016, which has a smaller form factor, was the smallest device Apple released since 2013’s 5S model (the very handset it happened to be based on) and was minuscule in comparison to the 6 / 6 Plus in 2014 and 6S / 6S Plus in 2015 (that device, the latter one, would be the basis for the internals used for the 4-inch smartphone). It struck a chord (so to speak) with customers, like myself, who did not like the larger designs that the tech giant had been moving forward with, but also, not to mention, its economical price.
Case (pun intended), in point, here are the specs predicted for the iPhone SE 2 (note the size of the device and that 5G is not mentioned):
- 4.7-inch display
- A13 processor (currently in the iPhone 11)
- 3GB RAM
- features a Home button
- no 3D Touch functionality
- 64GB and 128GB storage capacities
- available in space gray, silver, and “(PRODUCT) RED™”
- starts at $399
Those predictions come from that renowned analyst previously spoken of, and, with his reputable reputation in mind, I’m at my wit’s end over whether I want to or will upgrade to the iPhone SE 2 because of, first, the lack of 5G connectivity, and, second, its slightly larger size.
It’s a, huge, conundrum!
I mean, I can probably live with its 4.7-inch size because it has been compared to be the same width and height of 2017’s iPhone 8 — which I’ve test driven for how it feels in my hand since both my parents own that model and its not too big (unlike when I was thinking of upgrading my 5 for a 6S and played around with my sister’s 6, which had the same form factor, and did not like how large it was) — but the lack of confirmation of 5G connectivity may be the deal breaker which will kill it for me, because, I would be stuck with (for who knows how long) a device that has an older and slower speed should it run on the 4G LTE network currently in use for the past decade (at least here in the U.S.).
In a pair of possible scenarios, one, do I bite the bullet for size and forgo 5G and upgrade to an iPhone SE 2, or, two (no pun intended, wait until the Fall and choose the smallest model of the four predicted to be released (a 5.4-inch device) — albeit larger than my current Apple smartphone — and, as a result, enjoy the blazing fast speeds of the next generation successor to what will be old and outdated with 4G LTE if I choose the former route? (Or, do I, shudder at the prospect, just keep what I have now and live in the dark ages for the foreseeable future?).
We’ll just have to see what indeed happens come 2020, both in the Spring and then the Fall, and leave it to what actually is unveiled by the Cupertino, California-based tech giant next year. Then, and only then, can I make a better decision. But until that time? I will have to wait with baited breath (so to speak), hoping the iPhone SE 2 will be the new Apple smartphone of my dreams as its predecessor from 2016 was and has been my all-time favorite device — hands down (and literally, in it) — so far.
Note from the Author: MacPrices was given authorization by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) in conjunction with the ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) — both organizations being the copyright holders of the 5G logo —for use and publication of the image used in this article.